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I Retired On A Cruise Ship — Here’s How Much It Costs

TravelAwaits logo: MainLogo TravelAwaits 4/1/2023 Michelle M. Shockley
Steve D. © TravelAwaits Steve D.

Retirement Snapshot

Steve in his cruise ship’s dining area Photo credit: Steve D. © Provided by TravelAwaits Steve in his cruise ship’s dining area Photo credit: Steve D.
  • Name: Steve D. 
  • Location: Cruise Ship; Home base in Miami
  • Age: 75
  • Retired At: 65
  • Marital Status: Widowed
  • Profession: Attorney

Steve enjoyed his career as a corporate attorney but always found time for new adventures. He has been on more than 50 cruises on 12 different cruise lines. Now retired, Steve booked a continuous cruise and is living aboard it full-time this year while renting out his condo in Miami.

Your Retirement Plan

Retirement Awaits: Did you have a solid plan going into retirement?

Steve: Starting at 65 years old, I envisioned traveling internationally. My spouse and I took two cruises around the world and found traveling by cruise ship most attractive. When my spouse died in 2016, I took a break from traveling, however, now I am actively beginning a new journey at sea — meeting new friends, seeing new places, and maybe even finding a new partner to share this life I’ve chosen.

I decided traveling by cruise ship was a better way to travel, following a cruise to 

Alaska in 2004. Avoiding the stress of flying and constantly changing hotels to visit places was a primary reason. Boarding a cruise ship, unpacking once, and visiting lots of destinations with everything taken care of while I tour became my goal. And during a 210-day, back-to-back cruise around the world in 2015, I began thinking about “living on a cruise ship.” The cost per day is less than people think and can be budgeted.

Daily Life

Retirement Awaits: How do you spend your days on the ship?

Steve: I begin each day in the ship’s gym: usually in a complimentary group activity to strengthen my physical being. Next, I focus on my mental health, either by attending lectures, learning new skills, playing card games, or other activities. Each evening, I take in shows, either on stage or at different venues available aboard ship. There are times on cruises where I might get bored, but I remember this can also happen at my home in Miami. When the boredom creeps in, I relax and usually look to find an activity that’s new for me and that almost always solves it.

I enjoy having the freedom each day to choose my social activities without planning for meals, cleaning, laundry, or other daily activities of living. One of the best parts is making friends from all around the world and touring places everywhere without the stresses of other travel options.

Challenges In Cruising Part-Time

Retirement Awaits: What’s the biggest challenge in spending part of your retirement on a cruise ship?

Steve: Deciding where I should choose my next itinerary and on which ship(s).

Cost Of Retirement On A Cruise Ship

Retirement Awaits: How much does it cost to retire part-time on a cruise ship? Are there any extra costs?

Steve: Including paying “single supplement,” my average cost is $90,000 per year.

This first year’s cruise I booked the entire itinerary ahead but only made $300 deposit per cruise segment (as defined by the cruise company). I have the full option of canceling or changing any cruise segment if it’s done before final payment is due — usually 70 to 90 days ahead of each cruise segment departure date.

I pay port fees and taxes with the final payment of each cruise segment and consider whether I wish to purchase extras, such as beverage packages or tours.


Retirement Awaits: How do you handle health insurance while on the ship?

Steve: I have Medicare plus AARP United Healthcare Plan G Supplemental Insurance. I obtain enough medications (I have two prescriptions) for the year by using “vacation allowances” and storing the extra months for when I am out of the U.S. For emergency transportation back to the U.S., I have a supplemental medical care insurance policy.

Retirement Advice

Retirement Awaits: What advice would you give others about retiring on a cruise ship?

Steve: Start with a longer cruise than you’ve taken before, perhaps for a month on a ship of your choosing. And speak with other folks you meet who share this goal for any advice they may have, based on their experience. Nothing can beat taking a long cruise yourself. Talk with other experienced cruise travelers about the interests they have and how they are meeting them while at sea.

Cruise Line

Retirement Awaits: What is your favorite cruise line for retirement?

Steve: I think Holland America Line offers the best value for the price. The food is almost always the best, the shows are good, the staff goes above and beyond to make you feel at home. At the same time, each cruise company has its own strengths and weaknesses and so I recommend trying several to make the best choice for yourself.

Things I Wish I Would Have Known

Retirement Awaits: What do you wish you would have known before living on a cruise ship?

Steve: Cruise companies want to help you achieve your goal of traveling long distances and for the long term. Don’t hesitate to ask for their help, and using an experienced cruise travel advisor can save you even more money and time in planning. Recognize you will learn as you go forward and so remain flexible in making booking decisions and planning your beginning cruise(s).

Best Cruise Destinations 

Retirement Awaits: What are your favorite cruise destinations?

Steve: There is something I’ve liked or enjoyed about nearly every port I’ve visited. 

Certainly, places where the weather was good during my visit leave an even better impression. I’ve found people everywhere like to show off the best of their country; nobody generally likes their government, but you must try their cuisine.

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This article originally appeared on TravelAwaits



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